Double Dragon (1987) is one of my most fond memories of a jaded childhood. It was a true introduction of violence to my naive young mind (my parents sheltered me a little too much). I could find this lovely beat ‘em up only a few blocks from my house, and I was able to hone my skills often.  I have no idea where I got the hundreds upon hundreds of quarters to play it, but I am sure it was theft under a thousand.

Double dragon: Neon is a re-imagining of the 1987 arcade game. At a glance, it runs and feels like the original but after a stage or two you quickly realize that this re-boot takes a bold step. Double Dragon: Neon (DDN) is a tongue and cheek game and is fun with every element like that of the original.

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After playing it for about 15 minutes or so, I wasn’t really impressed. It looked good, but it felt stiff and ridged. It felt like the original Double Dragon with a new skin neatly painted over top. Surprisingly, the story does go off on a path of it’s own, and I mean way off. It was like a crazy Asian castle breaking apart to reveal a giant space shuttle. No, for realz, you really are in the crazy Asian castle space shuttle. You are along for the ride to a very unfamiliar place. I was glad to see this unexpected twist, it was something fresh and new merged with the old and all balled into one.

One thing that most gamers will be happy to see is a strong coop mode, just like the original. The difficulty can be challenging in single player mode but with a partner who is competent making it to the end of the story is a true possibility. Playing with a pal that has also played the original is not a must but it’s definitely a conversation starter and nostalgic overload to say the least.

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How To Buy A Dragon.

A level up system is also introduced. The system seems strange at first but it works. Knock out bad guys and pick up health, energy, tapes and cash. Use the tapes to add perks to your character. Each tape has different effects; some work on defense upgrades, combat pluses, magic boosts, etc… (if you can think of it there’s pretty much a tape for it).

The cash is used at stores. The stores are peppered throughout the game evenly enough. At the stores, you can buy anything from health to extra lives and even tapes. The extra lives offered at the stores are reasonably priced and are critical in completing your quest.

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Old School.

A side note to is that the original Double Dragon was ground breaking in many ways.  It came with many clones and copy cats. One Double Dragon-like game that is worth mentioning is River City Ransom. It is known to be one of the best NES beat ‘em ups. It came out a few years after Double Dragon and used every cool thing about Double Dragon and but added a few cool elements of their own, like an inventory system, light RPG elements and stores to buy almost any weapon and health/booster kits. So, seeing DDN use a system similar to River City Ransom truly shows the lovely incest that has occurred in beat ‘em ups.

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Stage Destroyed.

In DDN, the quest of the game is an old classic, rescue the princess from the castle. In this case, rescue your girlfriend from the evil gang who have her held up in a crazy Asian space ship. DDN isn’t overly violent. The original took a lot of heat in regards to violence on women which is much the same for this game. Your girlfriend is sucker punched in the first 5 seconds and DDN stays with it. Some of the common enemies throughout the game are of the female persuasion, and they don’t mind cracking you with a whip in the least.

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Why not go to space?

The range of weapons at your disposal is pretty thick. Knives, bats, whips and eventually more obscure things that come in the later levels. The action combos are smart and there are enough moves to keep you interested and to keep the game entertaining. The enemies are a good mix overall and the boss battles are frustratingly bullshit, but the AI is exploitable and with a bit of patience, creativity and extra lives, the world is your oyster.

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Double Dragon Neon Review: Old Is New Again?
I only had a few gripes with DDN. The movement was a little stiff and not very fluent. With stiff movement comes stiff fighting mechanics as well. DDN is nowhere near broken; it’s just a little bit tough to get used to. DDN had fun with the soundtrack and even more fun with the dialog. It looks good and has lots of charm. Would I have liked this or even have played it if I hadn't loved the original? Probably not, but I did play the original and loved it and I really enjoyed this one too. The question is will you?
The Good
  • A fresh spin on an old record.
  • Solid co-op.
  • Upgrade system.
The Bad
  • Fighting mechanics are clunky.
  • Stiff and empty feel.
7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)